On December 31, 2023, all cities in Spain with more than 50,000 inhabitants must have a Low Emissions Zone (ZBE) to reduce pollution in the urban environment. It is the deadline set by the Government for compliance, but which vehicles will no longer have access?
LEZs are designed, as their name suggests, to reduce the volume of polluting emissions that are recorded inside. There are currently two active ZBEs in Spain, those in Barcelona and Madrid. The two large cities of our country have been the first to create ZBE paths and both have had their pluses and minuses with the courts.
In Barcelona, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia recently annulled the first LEZ to start up in our country. However, the court has agreed to do not execute the statement while the City Council prepares the resources, so, for the time being, it is still fully in force.
The ZBE is an extension of more than 95 km2 in which the entire city is located, but also surrounding municipalities or the Industrial Free Zone and the neighborhoods of Vallvidrera, El Tibidabo and Les Planes. What is considered the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB). In all this space, vehicles without a label cannot circulate on weekdays between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
In Madrid There have also been moments of advance and retreat of its ZBE. Madrid 360 has come to replace Madrid Central. At the moment, there are three clearly differentiated areas with their own rules.
- Inside the M-30: Vehicles without a label cannot circulate.
- ZBE of special protection Central District: What was previously known as Central Madrid. Vehicles without tags cannot enter. Cars with labels B and C are required to park in a public car park. The ECO and Zero emissions can circulate freely.
- ZBE of special protection Plaza Elíptica: It is the most polluted point of the capital. Vehicles without a label cannot circulate except those of the neighbors and those that move along the section of the A-42 road.
The final project is in 2025 vehicles without a label are prohibited from circulating throughout the municipality of Madrid.
What vehicles will not be able to circulate through the ZBE?
Until now, we have seen the cases of Madrid and Barcelona, but there is no state regulation that prevents the circulation of a specific type of vehicle in the coming years, with the future implementation of the ZBE in the 149 municipalities Spaniards with more than 50,000 inhabitants.
In its Climate Change and Energy Transition Law, the Government establishes that these special zones will have to be implemented but it does not specify what criteria they must follow or who will see their mobility limited. The ultimate goal is that the volume of polluting emissions be reduced, but the city councils are given freedom.
In other words, for the application of the measures, it will be each consistory that establishes what criteria they must be followed. For its part, the Government has published a document called Guidelines for the creation of Low Emission Zones (ZBE). In which different examples are shown that municipalities can take as a reference.
Until now, both Madrid and Barcelona have targeted vehicles without a label and it is to be hoped that other cities will follow the same path. However, this does not stop being assumptions because, as we say, each city council will be able to take the appropriate measures that it considers.
In fact, the article 14 of the Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition establishes that the restrictions on access, circulation and parking of vehicles will be applied “according to the classification of vehicles by their level of emissions in accordance with the provisions of the General Vehicle Regulations in force”, but does not specify anything else.
Among the guidelines provided by the Government, it is not specified that vehicles without a label cannot circulate (exceptions could be established for residents, for example) but it does emphasize that “the criteria for access and circulation must be aimed at discouraging as much as possible the private motorized vehicle access in general, regardless of the environmental label it bears”.
In short, there is no official document that indicates a clear ban on the circulation of vehicles without a label, but it is expected, following the steps marked by Barcelona and Madrid. In addition, it is not ruled out that a City Council could further restrict access to its ZBE, limiting mobility to B or C cars.
Photo | Barcelona Metropolitan Area